Research shows the connection between rheumatoid arthritis and blood cancer mutations

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A group of researchers from Adelaide and the United States has uncovered a surprising link between a less common type of rheumatoid arthritis and gene mutations typically found in blood cancer.

The study focused on a subtype of rheumatoid arthritis called seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, which differs from the more common form in how it responds to treatments and in its negative blood test results for the main marker of rheumatoid arthritis.

The cause of this subtype remains unknown, and effective treatments are yet to be discovered.

Published in the journal Blood by the American Society of Hematology, the research was a collaboration between SAHMRI, the University of Adelaide, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Flinders University, and the Mayo Clinic in the United States.

It was led by clinical hematologist Associate Professor Devendra Hiwase, along with Dr. Dan Thomas, SAHMRI’s Blood Cancer Program lead.

Associate Professor Hiwase explains that the team was surprised to find that many patients with mutations in epigenetic genes, which can lead to conditions like lazy marrow or acute myeloid leukemia, also had seronegative arthritis.

“We discovered that the presence of mutations in the IDH1 or IDH2 genes, which affect bone marrow, often preceded the onset of arthritis in several cases, suggesting they may play a role in causing the condition,” Associate Professor Hiwase said.

“We suspect that other bone marrow disorders and mutations could also trigger inflammation that mimics an autoimmune disease.”

The researchers also noted that the time between the diagnosis of the bone marrow disorder and the onset of arthritis was shorter in patients with these mutations compared to those without them.

Additionally, the metabolites produced by the cancers were found to correlate with the arthritis.

“Our findings hold significant implications for arthritis patients because it indicates that metabolic therapies commonly used for blood cancer patients might also be effective for certain types of arthritis,” Associate Professor Hiwase added.

“These results are just the beginning of our understanding of the link between autoimmune diseases and blood cancers.”

The study suggests that these gene mutations could contribute to the development of autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases, particularly in cases where rheumatoid arthritis is seronegative.

This association opens up the possibility of using drugs to target these mutations as a potential treatment for seronegative rheumatoid arthritis in the future.

“This research exemplifies the power of interdisciplinary registry science at SAHMRI, made possible by digital health records and rapid mass spectrometry capabilities,” Dr. Thomas remarked.

If you care about arthritis, please read studies about extra virgin olive oil for arthritis, and pomegranate: A natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

For more information about arthritis, please see recent studies about how to live pain-free with arthritis, and results showing medical cannabis may help reduce arthritis pain, back pain.

The research findings can be found in Blood.

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